When it’s time to plan a trip, we think about which airline we should fly with, the bus or train schedule or how much a taxi will cost.
We fuss a lot over transportation, but we rarely pay enough attention to the transportation we use most: our very own two feet.
The K-pop vocalist-turned-actor Min Seo-hyun said it simply and truthfully: “Good shoes take you good places.”
In this case, the “good place” is Europe, a continent that includes some of the world’s most popular cities for visitors.
When heading to Europe, you might not expect to do much walking. Trains and planes are cheap and plentiful, public transit is efficient and cities aren’t that big at first glance.
But stop and think about guided walking tours, days at the markets and visits to expansive museums. You may want to give your footwear more serious consideration!
If your shoes aren’t comfortable, nothing else matters. You’ll be miserable after the first day of walking around Paris in sandals with no support.
The following guide will help you choose the best shoes for exploring those ancient ruins, enjoying nightlife and staying comfortable during lengthy walking tours. And they’re all stylish enough for you to blend in with Europeans!
How to Choose Your Stylish Walking Shoes for Europe
I chose all the shoes on this list based on both form and function.
There are four categories: shoes for cobblestone streets/nightclubs, ancient ruins, market days/festivals and seasides/beaches.
All four categories contain a mix of dress shoes, sport shoes and daily wear. You can travel light and still have matching outfits and footwear.
Weight is an important factor, as extra baggage costs to Europe are expensive if you’re flying from another continent.
Please be aware that weights listed are per shoe, not per pair, which is the same as most retail outlets. Weights are also based on medium-sized shoes.
The first rule of thumb is to make sure you have the right fit. Literally. When trying on shoes, ensure there’s at least a thumb’s width between your toe and the tip of the shoe. This is the easiest and most basic measuring guide to use.
Most designer brands, like Vionic, stock their shoes according to width and length size. You can usually choose between narrow, medium and wide sizes.
For those who want a more precise and scientific measurement, visit your local shoe store and use their special Brannock Device. This measures both the length and width of your foot, and it guarantees a more precise fit. This is ideal if your feet aren’t a typical size or if you have specific needs, such as more space for your toes or extra arch support.
Walk the Walk with These Stylish Walking Shoes for Europe
Now for the moment I always seem to be waiting for… the moment when we get to shop for shoes.
In this list, ladies’ selections are listed first, followed by men’s choices in the same category. The choices include a range of formal, semi-formal and casual selections.
Best foot forward, folks, as we set out to explore Europe!
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1. Stylish Shoes for Cobblestone Streets and Night Clubs
You can’t go to Europe without preparing for some glamour. The following shoes are ideal for an extended city walking tour or a party on the Palatine Hill in Rome.
Most travelers think about their shoes when preparing for outdoor adventures, but Europe has some amazing urban environments that also require the right footwear. Old catacombs, medieval streets and ancient caves are just a few examples.
These shoes are intended for both daytime and nighttime wear in Europe’s big cities and electric nightspots. This footwear not only looks great, it also moves and adapts to uneven surfaces.
- Bed|Stu Women’s Soto flat sandal is elegant and comfortable, equally as impressive when worn with with your bedazzled club top or a colorful sundress for a warm afternoon on the Amalfi Coast.
The stylish leather stitching hides durable rubber soles, which provide a firm grip for those old stone stairs or steep winding stairways in places like central Italy. These shoes are also part of Bed|Stu’s Organics collection, so they’re free of dangerous or harsh chemicals. Weight: 6 oz.
- The Naot Meditate studded bootie is a tougher looking shoe to combat cold weather, crowds and other travel hazards common in Europe.
Metal accents like studs, leather and zippers give this shoe an edgy look, while an inner layer of suede molds to the exact shape of your foot. Your feet can look tough without getting beaten up on that Parisian walking tour. Weight: 12 oz.
- Dress to impress with the sleek Vionic Wise Hadley Oxford, which is just as comfortable as it is stylish. You can wear this versatile brogue with or without laces as you stroll the main avenue window shopping and people watching. The interior has elastic for a secure fit, and the thick sole is well-ventilated. Weight: 9 oz.
- The Vince Lee is a comfortable classic taken to the next level. It’s a casual slip-on with a unique streamlined leather design, which gives the shoes a formal touch.
The thick, white base adapts to a variety of surfaces and keeps your foot cushioned. Weight: 1 lb., 2 oz.
- The Johnston & Murphy Deerfield Wingtip slip-on has a casual feel and formal look. The sleek grain leather gives this comfortable slip-on an elegant visage, but it also has extra padding to keep your feet comfortable, no matter where they take you. These shoes look just as good in the Ibiza club scene as they do in a sidewalk cafe. Weight: 1 lb., 3 oz.
- The Mark Nason Los Angeles Monza slip-on loafer has tapered toes, dress shoe heels and detailed stitching that exude old-world class. The woven mesh, lightweight materials and memory foam are important, modern details hiding beneath a classic exterior. Perfect for an extended walk through Potsdamer Platz in New Berlin. Weight: 9 oz.
2. Stylish Shoes for Walking on Ancient Ruins
It wouldn’t be a trip to Europe without seeing historic landmarks. That includes everything from 18th-century Gothic architecture to standing stones scattered all over the continent.
Visitors flock to Europe to see the legacy that remains of the Romans, Goths, Druids and other ancient people.
The footwear in this category is ideal for extended time periods outside. That includes touring romantic vistas and low-level hiking along ancient walkways.
- Stroll in comfort with this padded slip-on, cleverly designed with a basic style. The Lauren by Ralph Lauren Ria slip-on fashion sneaker has an extra-thick base, giving this shoe a comfortable lift, plus some extra grip and durability. They’re ideal for a variety of environments, such as the steep hills, amphitheaters and rough streets in places like Lyon and Nice. Weight: 11 oz.
- Inspired by work and equally suited for leisure, the ECCO Crepetray Hybrid is a versatile ankle boot you can wear in any season. You’ll look fashionable wearing these boots on those tougher sightseeing trails. Enjoy that walking tour of the the Roman Forum with confidence. You can spend more time taking photos and less time nursing sore feet. Weight: 1 lb., 1 oz.
- The Söfft Mirabelle is designed for long walks in warmer seasons and southern climates, making it an ideal choice for the Mediterranean shoreline. Choose from several different colors, types of leather and patterns to suit any wardrobe. These sandals are designed to have the comfort and flexibility of sneakers and are made with extra padding for extended wear. Weight: 10 oz.
- A trendy shoe that comes in a wide variety of color schemes, the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 fashion sneaker is a classic. Leather and suede give this sporty shoe a more trendy look that transcends casual. This cool design hides extra padding and a perforated base that lets you stroll, walk or run all day through big cities like Barcelona or through small, charming cities like Orvieto. Weight: 11 oz.
- The ECCO Men’s Biom street tie sneaker utilizes a simple template to make a complex and stylish sneaker.
Biom is a special design unique to this brand. It uses modern insoles to adjust to changing ground conditions. Leather accents and a variety of matte colors give this shoe a sleek, stylish look. It’s the perfect mix for exploring trendy European towns. Weight: 13 oz.
- The Merrell Jungle Moc Nubuck slip-on shoe is designed for walking, but the leather exterior makes it look more like a trendy boot or loafer. The inside is made up of mesh lining and an air cushion to improve your foot’s stability and lessen shock. Wear them with pants, and they could be mistaken for formal shoes! But they go just as well with shorts. Weight: 14 oz.
3. Stylish Shoes for Market Days and Festivals
Ready to hustle through that crowd and search for the best deals? You have to be light on your feet but prepared to carry a heavy load when you visit one of Europe’s many famous outdoor markets or colorful festivals.
Move through those market stalls with ease in any of these shoes.
These shoes are designed for moving quickly and carrying things with ease, whether it’s groceries or gifts.
- The ECCO Damara sandal has a specially designed base for extra comfort. The soft, leather cross-straps hide the simple Velcro closure. ECCO’s FLUIDFORM™ technology provides extra padding to compliment the leather lining. These versatile sandals come in several colors to match any wardrobe and are an ideal choice if you plan to shop for clothes in one of Europe’s big open markets. Weight: 7 oz.
- The Nike Free RN Flyknit running shoe is specifically designed for short sprints, so it’s ideal for days when you have to move quickly, like during the famous Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona. The shoe is intended for walking on roads and sidewalks. This particular style is available in a wide range of colors. Weight: 7 oz.
- Developed using the highest-quality Italian leather, the Tieks Metallic ballet flat isn’t just for dancers. These shoes are intended for modern daily wear and come in a myriad of colors, prints and artistic designs.
They mold to your foot and are flexible and durable. You can fold them up and put them in a pocket or purse if you need to change on the go. Weight: 5 oz.
- Blend in at colorful European festivals in these Giorgio Brutini Clifton loafers. The gold accents and simple design hide a padded lining. The heel is low but wide, which improves grip. You can walk, run or dance in these versatile shoes, and they can even work as formal wear. They would also match perfectly with your Venetian mask. Weight: 12 oz.
- The KEEN Men’s Austin is rugged but refined, designed for exploring urban environments. That could include the modern city of Vienna, Austria or the extensive ancient cities of Greece.
It’s water resistant, has extra protection for your toes and includes a removable foam lining. The casual lace-up closure is balanced with sleek leather lining and precise stitching, which give the shoe a stylish touch. Weight: 14 oz.
- The Birkenstock Harris Suede Leather ankle boots were designed with walking in mind! Their design is based on a desert boot. The hard, silver suede makes this shoe durable, versatile and attractive, all while ensuring a comfortable fit. An interior cork footbed (which is also removable) contours to the exact shape of your foot. Weight: 1 lb.
4. Stylish Shoes for Seasides and Beaches
Whether it’s the Mediterranean or the cool North, every corner of Europe hides a different shoreline. That includes countries on the Atlantic Coast but also the regions of the interior.
There are many different seaside and lake shore activities to enjoy throughout the continent. Italy is a particularly popular summer hot spot, partly because of its long coastline and numerous idyllic beaches.
Whether you’re on a boat, boardwalk or beach, your feet should look good!
- You may be surprised to see the brand that created this strappy, modern number. Yes, those Isabella T-Strap sandals are Crocs! They look simple, but this brilliant design integrates a lightweight jelly t-strap system and a high-tech foam footbed so you won’t even have to think about your feet.
You can buy them in black, bronze or romantic oyster gold. Your footwear can match the color of the sand whether you’re on the beach in Italy, Greece or Spain. Weight: 4 oz.
- The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Core Ox sneakers have a complicated name for a simple classic. Another vintage shoe brought into the future with updated materials, the durable canvas and thick sole keep your feet comfortable for hours on end. These are also unisex and come in several different colors. Weight, 15 oz.
- Waterproof, tough and layered with black suede, the Blondo INFINIT looks just as good on the beach as it does in the yacht club on the French Riviera. The rubber insole makes sure you keep your grip, even on wet or uneven surfaces. They look great with almost any outfit and can work in any weather. Barcelona has both a beach and a buzzing nightlife scene, after all. Weight, 1 lb.
- The name of this company, Vivobarefoot, isn’t just an expression. These luxury sneakers are really designed to be worn with bare feet.
- Inspired by hiking and urban sports, Vivobarefoot’s Borough can take you through the hiking trails of Switzerland as easily as the streets of Madrid. The shoes are mostly camel leather and are designed to be worn as performance shoes. Weight: 9 oz.
- The Reef Rover Mid Wt is waterproof, durable and made for adventurers. The interior is made up of three different layers for support, traction and comfort, along with contoured foam to perfectly fit to your foot. The distressed leather that frames the outside gives the final product a vintage style. Weight: 5 oz.
- The Crocs Swiftwater sandal is about modern design as much as casual comfort. Wear them anywhere on or near the water with confidence. They’re quick to dry, have extra toe protection and show off a trendy design that looks great on deck. You’ll also get support and durability for long-term wear. Weight: 14 oz.
There’s a lot to see in every corner of Europe. Whether you’re backpacking on a budget, learning one of Europe’s many languages or taking a luxurious vacation, you don’t want to be dragged down by aching feet.
Buy the right footwear so you can explore those old cities and ancient ruins with ease. (While still looking good!)
In the book “Fiesta of Happiness,” David Baird writes, “While everyone else hobbles round with sore feet, your choices should feel comfortable or they aren’t your choices at all. Why limp when you can sprint?”
With these stylish walking shoes for Europe, you can sprint around the continent all you want!
Kristy Ambrose has been writing professionally since 2010. She dabbles in various genres, including everything from short blog posts to serialized novels. Her inspiration comes from gamers, beachcombers, foodies and of course her fellow travelers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Victoria.
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